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View Full Version : How important is it to acquire a GB pitcher for the rotation?



Spitball
12-26-2006, 05:45 PM
When looking for additions to the Reds' rotation, should they look for the best possible pitcher, or should they be concentrating on ground ball pitchers?

Are fly ball pitchers really doomed to failure at GAB? Both Harang and Arroyo had almost identical 38% ground ball percentages for balls in play, yet they were very successful starting pitchers for the Reds.

Home runs are usually not fly balls that happened to go too far. Home runs are mistakes by the pitcher. Fly balls are usually not bad if the pitcher doesn't make a mistake with the location. Fly balls, induced by design, tend to hang in the air longer which benefits fielders like Dunn and Griffey.

Ground ball pitchers are nice because they tend to keep the ball in the park. However, since roughly 85% of all errors occur in the infield, they tend to give up more unearned runs, which don't count against ERA's but do on the scoreboard. Also, their mistakes tend to be line drives which does not bode well with Dunn and Griffey in the outfield.

I'd like the Reds to direct their efforts toward acquiring the best possible pitcher available to improve the quality of the rotation, but I don't think it is necessary to let Eric Milton's frequent mistakes scare them from a good fly ball pitcher in the same mold as either Harang or Arroyo.

Tom Servo
12-26-2006, 05:53 PM
A groundball pitcher like Jake Westbrook or the like could potentially be very nice, but I believe you still have to go after the best pitchers available, fly ball tendencies or not. What you can not afford to do though is sign a pitcher who gave up the most homeruns in the league to a big deal and expect him to do well in the ballpark that allows the most home runs in the league. But who could possibly be stupid enough to do that?

RedsManRick
12-26-2006, 06:07 PM
Calling all stat-heads besides myself -- what other variables most strongly correlates with HR rate?

H/9? GB/FB? LD%?

I'm not sure how HR are classified in terms of GB/FB, but I'm guessing that in terms of "reality", more homers are "line drives" hit with a bit of extra loft than they are "fly balls" with a bit of extra carry. Adam Dunn can hit both line drive and fly ball homers, but I don't think most hitters are hitting homers on fly balls.

All of the coding at this point is fairly subjective, but it would be interesting to see if it's as simply as converting flyballs in play in to a HR rate or if there's really more to the story.

Spitball
12-26-2006, 06:13 PM
Here is an interesting article on the subject:

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2006/writers/jon_weisman/05/01/groundball.pitchers/index.html


Contrary to expectations, ground-ball pitchers regularly populate the list of most home runs allowed each year. When batters get one up, they really get one up. In 2005, Greg Maddux of the Chicago Cubs and Jason Marquis of the St. Louis Cardinals tied for ninth in baseball in home runs allowed, with 29, and Lowe was right behind them at 28. All three pitchers induced grounders on more than half of the batters they faced, yet each allowed home runs at a rate worse than that of baseball's biggest fly-ball pitcher of 2005, the Washington Nationals' John Patterson.

dougdirt
12-26-2006, 06:20 PM
Maybe because Patterson plays half his games in the Grand Canyon?

Z-Fly
12-26-2006, 07:39 PM
I think there are a lot of factors that go into why we think that flyball pitchers can't pitch well in GAB.

One of the factors may be that E. Milton gave them a bad name.

Just putting that one out there.

RedsManRick
12-26-2006, 07:48 PM
Ok -- here are some numbers to digest. All NL pitchers with 100 IP or more:



Rank HR/9 BB/9 K/9 GB/FB
1 R Clemens 0.56 2.31 8.12 1.42
2 B Webb 0.57 1.91 6.82 4.06
3 D Lowe 0.58 2.27 5.08 3.99
4 A Sanchez 0.71 3.63 5.68 1.11
5 Z Duke 0.71 2.85 4.90 1.81
6 A Cook 0.72 2.33 3.90 2.77
7 J Jennings 0.72 3.61 6.03 1.27
8 C Hensley 0.72 3.66 5.87 2.10
9 R Oswalt 0.74 1.55 6.78 1.52
10 B Sheets 0.76 0.93 9.85 0.95

61 S Marshall 1.44 4.24 5.54 1.41
62 J Lieber 1.45 1.29 5.36 1.23
63 C Vargas 1.45 2.80 6.62 1.01
64 R Ortiz 1.47 3.03 4.92 1.04
65 C James 1.51 3.55 6.88 0.50
66 O Perez 1.60 5.45 8.18 1.36
67 J Marquis 1.62 3.48 4.45 1.16
68 T Buchholz 1.67 2.71 6.13 1.10
69 E Milton 1.71 2.48 5.32 0.63
70 J Sosa 2.29 3.05 5.72 0.78

So, what does it mean at first glance? Well, the number of homers you allow does seem to be based on a few things:

- GB/FB seems to be the best indicator; the top of the list had a ratio nearly twice that of the bottom of the list. Ground balls simply don't turn in to home runs.
- You better do 2 of 3 things well or 1 of the 3 VERY well: miss lots of bats, play in a huge park, and keep the ball on the ground.

It's pretty much common sense, but I think there's something to be said for the effect of missing bats (not allowing a high BIP/AB ratio) and playing in a HR unfriendly environment.
- The aforementioned Greg Maddux was actually #19 in the NL for fewest HR/AB this year. I think you can attribute that largely to a much much more pitcher friendly environment.
- Aaron Cook didn't strike anybody out but an enormous park (especially with humidified balls) and a big GB/FB kept the homers way down.
- Sheets and Clemens play in smallish parks and have pedestrian GB/FB rates but miss a ton of bats.
- Milton has always been homer prone, but never as bad in MN. Well, MN is a tougher park than Philly or GABP and he missed more bats. The GB/FB ratio has been constant.

Given that GABP is a homer friendly park, we arguably need guys who either miss bats and have a solid ratio or do one of those two VERY well. I'd don't see many FA pitchers who fit that criteria. Matt Belisle is interesting because he's got a decent K/9 and strong GB/FB rate. Jake Westbrook was at 0.64 HR/9 last year. It's a shame WK felt Gary Majewski, Royce Clayton, and Brenden Harris were better fits...

Dracodave
12-26-2006, 08:19 PM
Given that GABP is a homer friendly park, we arguably need guys who either miss bats and have a solid ratio or do one of those two VERY well. I'd don't see many FA pitchers who fit that criteria. Matt Belisle is interesting because he's got a decent K/9 and strong GB/FB rate. Jake Westbrook was at 0.64 HR/9 last year. It's a shame WK felt Gary Majewski, Royce Clayton, and Brenden Harris were better fits...

A mistake pitch at GABP is a homer. A mistake pitch in say Washington is a fly ball out. It's amazing that two of the named players a)Clayton was a conventional seasoned vet Toronto liked and b)Harris got dfa'd. Isn't that more reason to love that trade? It boils down to Kearns+Lopez for Bray+Majewski "The Magic Man".

We need a player who keeps the ball constitently low, and misses bats. Thats why Harrang's 12-6 slider was great last year, it'd start in the zone to move out, even on a mistake it was a ground ball half the time.

Spitball
12-26-2006, 08:42 PM
Thats why Harrang's 12-6 slider was great last year, it'd start in the zone to move out, even on a mistake it was a ground ball half the time.

Of the balls put in play against Harang, only 38 percent were hit on the ground. The same is true of Arroyo, and that puts both pretty near the top of the fly ball starting pitchers in this catagory.

I believe fly ball pitchers can be successful, as were Harang and Arroyo, if they keep their mistakes to a minimum and runners off base. Actually, fly ball pitchers give up more high fly balls than line drives which helps the Reds outfield.

Spitball
12-26-2006, 08:44 PM
Here is a link to the GB% stats. Notice Harang and Arroyo.

http://www.hardballtimes.com/thtstats/main/index.php?view=pitching&linesToDisplay=50&orderBy=gbPcnt&direction=ASC&qual_filter=1&season_filter%5B%5D=2006&league_filter%5B%5D=2&Submit=Submit

Eric_Davis
12-26-2006, 08:56 PM
When looking for additions to the Reds' rotation, should they look for the best possible pitcher, or should they be concentrating on ground ball pitchers?

Are fly ball pitchers really doomed to failure at GAB? Both Harang and Arroyo had almost identical 38% ground ball percentages for balls in play, yet they were very successful starting pitchers for the Reds.

Home runs are usually not fly balls that happened to go too far. Home runs are mistakes by the pitcher. Fly balls are usually not bad if the pitcher doesn't make a mistake with the location. Fly balls, induced by design, tend to hang in the air longer which benefits fielders like Dunn and Griffey.

Ground ball pitchers are nice because they tend to keep the ball in the park. However, since roughly 85% of all errors occur in the infield, they tend to give up more unearned runs, which don't count against ERA's but do on the scoreboard. Also, their mistakes tend to be line drives which does not bode well with Dunn and Griffey in the outfield.

I'd like the Reds to direct their efforts toward acquiring the best possible pitcher available to improve the quality of the rotation, but I don't think it is necessary to let Eric Milton's frequent mistakes scare them from a good fly ball pitcher in the same mold as either Harang or Arroyo.

A Grade-C ground-ball pitcher would be worth as much as a Grade-B flyball pitcher in the GAB, and cost a lot less. Our best defenders are also in the infield, not the outfield.

Eric_Davis
12-26-2006, 09:07 PM
I saw that Willis was in the top-10 in best GB%...time to buy low....would trade Dunn for him in a heartbeat.

Spitball
12-26-2006, 09:08 PM
A Grade-C ground-ball pitcher would be worth as much as a Grade-B flyball pitcher in the GAB, and cost a lot less. Our best defenders are also in the infield, not the outfield.

I get the feeling you didn't read everything I've posted here. If you have a slow outfield, you don't really benefit from a ground ball pitcher because they give up more line drives. Fly ball pitchers, when locating their pitches, tend to give up high fly balls which are easier to field.

Irregardless of which unit, the outfield or infield, is stronger defensively, there will be many more errors made in the infield than in the outfield next year. Fly balls are easier outs than groundballs.

Eric_Davis
12-26-2006, 09:13 PM
I get the feeling you didn't read everything I've posted here. If you have a slow outfield, you don't really benefit from a ground ball pitcher because they give up more line drives. Fly ball pitchers, when locating their pitches, tend to give up high fly balls which are easier to field.

Irregardless of which unit, the outfield or infield, is stronger defensively, there will be many more errors made in the infield than in the outfield next year. Fly balls are easier outs than groundballs.

So, Arroyo and Harang are good for this team because of the poor defenders we have in Griffey and Dunn. That does make sense after you explained it. So, to take advantage of groundball pitchers, we need to upgrade our defense in several positions you're saying?

Would you think that a Willis for Dunn trade would give us an automatic upgrade defensively no matter who we put in there (such as Freel with Denorfia in Center) in the outfield and moving Junior over to right would help.

Eric_Davis
12-26-2006, 09:15 PM
It is amazing that Arroyo and Harang, two of the highest percentage of flyball pitchers in the NL, had success pitching in the GAB, when it had been perceived, apparently erroneously, that flyball pitchers would be doomed to pitch there.

Chip R
12-26-2006, 09:21 PM
It seems to me that, with a few exceptions, ground ball pitchers tend to give up a lot of hits. These guys are usually soft tossers who aren't that good. Ideally you'd like to get a guy who strikes out a bunch and has a rubber arm but those are few and far between and they are paid handsomely.

reds44
12-26-2006, 09:27 PM
I'll take good pitchers. I don't care if they are FB or GB.

Spitball
12-26-2006, 09:28 PM
So, Arroyo and Harang are good for this team because of the poor defenders we have in Griffey and Dunn. That does make sense after you explained it. So, to take advantage of groundball pitchers, we need to upgrade our defense in several positions you're saying?

With Dunn and Griffey, a fly ball pitcher is an advantage because high fly balls are easier for them to get to and field than line drives. Even though the infield is better defensively, most errors occur on ground balls, so if you keep the ball in the air 60% of the time, you should improve your over-all team defense.

If the Reds had better defenders in left and center, a ground ball pitcher would be more effective.


Would you think that a Willis for Dunn trade would give us an automatic upgrade defensively no matter who we put in there (such as Freel with Denorfia in Center) in the outfield and moving Junior over to right would help.

I'd love to add Willis to Harang and Arroyo.

Falls City Beer
12-26-2006, 09:45 PM
I don't get too flipped out over GB pitchers, as I believe they are more myth than reality. A GB pitcher that would genuinely make a difference in GAB is an incredibly rare bird. I think the key is getting guys who keep people off base, be they "GB" guys or FB guys.

This is ultimately the same argument, in my mind, that says Zito would adjust to GAB, particularly when he gets to face the pitcher instead of a DH.

Dracodave
12-26-2006, 09:49 PM
This is ultimately the same argument, in my mind, that says Zito would adjust to GAB, particularly when he gets to face the pitcher instead of a DH.

That means Bat-misser. :laugh: And I agree FCB, we need someone who can plainly miss bats, not always a pure strike out pitcher but we need a low BAA pitcher.

mth123
12-27-2006, 05:17 AM
I don't get too flipped out over GB pitchers, as I believe they are more myth than reality. A GB pitcher that would genuinely make a difference in GAB is an incredibly rare bird. I think the key is getting guys who keep people off base, be they "GB" guys or FB guys.

This is ultimately the same argument, in my mind, that says Zito would adjust to GAB, particularly when he gets to face the pitcher instead of a DH.

You've been right all winter, but I have to disagree on Zito. He doesn't keep guys off base. He walks a ton of guys and allows too many runners.

As for the GB/FB thing, I look at it but really don't give it a ton of weight. I look more at HR/9 and evaluate in the context of his home park. If a guy gives up more than 1 HR per nine in a pitchers park like Washington, San Diego or Oakland its a pretty good bet that those numbers would move into Milton range in a place like GABP, Philly or Texas. Zito fails here as well.

HRs alone aren't a reason to stay away for me, but HR combined with lots of runners screams "stay away" real loudly. That is what I see when I look at Zito. He'd still be good (but not an ace) in a pitchers park. IMO he would be terrible in Cincy and if Texas signs him it would at least make everyone forget about the similar mistake they made with Chan Ho Park.

RANDY IN INDY
12-27-2006, 09:00 AM
My preference for the Reds would be to acquire a hard thrower who can miss bats on a regular basis. I like the Cabrera kid from Baltimore. If he ever harnesses his control, he could be a good one.

Dracodave
12-27-2006, 09:33 AM
My preference for the Reds would be to acquire a hard thrower who can miss bats on a regular basis. I like the Cabrera kid from Baltimore. If he ever harnesses his control, he could be a good one.

Cabrera, Williams (low risk/high reward) and Pineiro would all be good choices if they could "put it back together". Pinerio and Willams would probably come cheap. Cabrera, I dont know what Baltimore would want for him but I venture to say we dont have it.

RANDY IN INDY
12-27-2006, 09:37 AM
Oh, the Reds have it, but at this point in time and the state of the offense, I don't think he should be given up unless a guy like Markakis is given in the deal.

Newman4
12-27-2006, 10:17 AM
Ok -- here are some numbers to digest. All NL pitchers with 100 IP or more:



Rank HR/9 BB/9 K/9 GB/FB
1 R Clemens 0.56 2.31 8.12 1.42
2 B Webb 0.57 1.91 6.82 4.06
3 D Lowe 0.58 2.27 5.08 3.99
4 A Sanchez 0.71 3.63 5.68 1.11
5 Z Duke 0.71 2.85 4.90 1.81
6 A Cook 0.72 2.33 3.90 2.77
7 J Jennings 0.72 3.61 6.03 1.27
8 C Hensley 0.72 3.66 5.87 2.10
9 R Oswalt 0.74 1.55 6.78 1.52
10 B Sheets 0.76 0.93 9.85 0.95

61 S Marshall 1.44 4.24 5.54 1.41
62 J Lieber 1.45 1.29 5.36 1.23
63 C Vargas 1.45 2.80 6.62 1.01
64 R Ortiz 1.47 3.03 4.92 1.04
65 C James 1.51 3.55 6.88 0.50
66 O Perez 1.60 5.45 8.18 1.36
67 J Marquis 1.62 3.48 4.45 1.16
68 T Buchholz 1.67 2.71 6.13 1.10
69 E Milton 1.71 2.48 5.32 0.63
70 J Sosa 2.29 3.05 5.72 0.78

So, what does it mean at first glance? Well, the number of homers you allow does seem to be based on a few things:

- GB/FB seems to be the best indicator; the top of the list had a ratio nearly twice that of the bottom of the list. Ground balls simply don't turn in to home runs.
- You better do 2 of 3 things well or 1 of the 3 VERY well: miss lots of bats, play in a huge park, and keep the ball on the ground.

It's pretty much common sense, but I think there's something to be said for the effect of missing bats (not allowing a high BIP/AB ratio) and playing in a HR unfriendly environment.
- The aforementioned Greg Maddux was actually #19 in the NL for fewest HR/AB this year. I think you can attribute that largely to a much much more pitcher friendly environment.
- Aaron Cook didn't strike anybody out but an enormous park (especially with humidified balls) and a big GB/FB kept the homers way down.
- Sheets and Clemens play in smallish parks and have pedestrian GB/FB rates but miss a ton of bats.
- Milton has always been homer prone, but never as bad in MN. Well, MN is a tougher park than Philly or GABP and he missed more bats. The GB/FB ratio has been constant.

Given that GABP is a homer friendly park, we arguably need guys who either miss bats and have a solid ratio or do one of those two VERY well. I'd don't see many FA pitchers who fit that criteria. Matt Belisle is interesting because he's got a decent K/9 and strong GB/FB rate. Jake Westbrook was at 0.64 HR/9 last year. It's a shame WK felt Gary Majewski, Royce Clayton, and Brenden Harris were better fits...


Looking at the chart, it's apparent that the extreme GB pitchers show up on the low HR side and the extreme FB pitchers show up on the high HR side. There's guys in the 1.00 to 1.50 range on both ends of the spectrum. Thus, it may be beneficial to sign the extreme GB pitchers, but not guys that are slightly GB pitchers. Also, it may be important to look at OPS against as a good indicator of how hard these guys get hit along with HR rate and GB/FB.

Johnny Footstool
12-27-2006, 10:26 AM
That means Bat-misser. :laugh: And I agree FCB, we need someone who can plainly miss bats, not always a pure strike out pitcher but we need a low BAA pitcher.

Pitcher's don't have much control over balls put in play. Are you familiar with BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play)?

A low BAA pitcher is generally either 1) a high-K pitcher, or 2) a lucky pitcher.

flyer85
12-27-2006, 10:28 AM
I don't see it as that important. It is more important to stay away from extreme flyball starting pitchers. The Reds are lacking in pitchers that miss bats, especially in the bullpen.

RedsManRick
12-27-2006, 10:33 AM
Good way of summarizing it Newman. Aaron Cook is going to keep the ball in the yard and Eric Milton is going to give up gopher balls wherever they play. Outside of that, it's pretty much park effect, simple number of balls in play, and luck.

In GABP, that means simply avoid guys with real low GB/FB and then get the low whip, high k/9 guys like everyone else is after.

harangatang
01-25-2007, 06:33 PM
Bump, I thought this might be a good one with the Saarloos trade.